Goto Menuki from Momoyama Period
The Goto school reigns as the preeminent group of fittings makers in Japanese sword history. Nearly every other school of fittings makers either has direct roots in some generation of the Goto lineages, or was inspired and influence by it.
The origin of the Goto school is thought to be with Goto Yujo in the middle of the Muromachi period. Yujo was born in 1440 AD and died in 1512 AD, and the next 6 generations of his progeny would continue to make fittings through the remainder of the Muromachi, through the Momoyama, into beginning of the Edo periods in 1615.
The goto school continued to the 17th main line master, Goto Tenjo, who died in 1879. Over 4 centuries of Goto mainline masters produced dozens of fittings craftsman with branches that became master craftsmen that evolved and even revolutionized their own styles and schools.
The attribution of this set by the NBTHK notes “Goto (Momoyama)” and thus is pointing to one of the makers working in that time period between 1573-1615. This would point to the three makers of the 4th, 5th, and 6th generations which are Goto Kojo, Goto Tokujo, and Goto Eijo respectively. However the earliest generations of Goto masters didn’t sign their productions and there probably aren’t enough generational hallmarks in this work to attribute it to a particular maker among the three working within Momoyama times. Thus the attribution brackets this set to the time frame which infers one of these makers.
The posts of these menuki are referred to as “Inyokon” and harken back to the days when menuki were integrated into mekugi to secure the sword in the handle via this stem and barrel design. As time passed mekugi became an independent feature with Menuki being retained as a decorative element. The inyokan were retained as an artifact of tradtion and eventually evolved into more commonly seen standard stems of solid round, rectangular, square, or for one maker in particular, triangular shapes.
Much like the origins, age, and condition of a sword is judged by its nakago, menuki are similarly judged by their reverse side. The fact that the posts are designed as they are, and exist in excellent shape contributes greatly to solidifying both the origin and time period of this set. Many menuki can be seen to have long since had their posts damaged, altered, or even removed altogether as a result of mounting and re-mounting over the centuries, as some Tsukamakishi (craftsman that wrap the handles) likely found them to be a burden to mount with them intact. Alternatively, posts were also frequently removed in order to re-purpose the menuki into other decorative items such as tobacco pouch ornament, obidome (a decorative element on the cords binding Kimono obi), or jewelry exported to the Western nations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This set is unsigned, but certified by the NBTHK with a Hozon Tosogu paper. It is a beautiful set crafted in solid gold that remain in superb condition over the 500 years that since they were created. They are everything one could expect of the early generations of Goto craftsman and would be a fine addition to any collection.
On Consignment: $4200.00 usd